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Boat slips are poorly planned and too expensive

Work on waterfront starts story, Aug. 18

Slips must make financial sense

Clearwater City Council Vice Mayor Paul Gibson talks about city leaders needing to pull together to support boat slips in downtown Clearwater. It will take more than pulling together to attract potential slip renters.

As owners of a 37-foot sailboat, my husband and I were very interested when Clearwater started discussing building boat slips in downtown. We are residents of Belleair and currently keep our boat in a slip in downtown Gulfport, a 45-minute car ride away. We were on the waiting list for over a year for a slip at the Gulfport Municipal Marina. When we received the call, we jumped at the chance.

We originally kept our boat at a marina just north of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway, but it was sold for a planned condo complex. We were forced to find another marina. Today, our former marina stands incomplete as a testament to the failed real estate market and yet another example of disappearing marinas in Pinellas County.

We are willing to drive south for 45 minutes to Gulfport for a number of reasons: This marina is a city-owned facility, thus it will not be sold as a potential condo complex. We enjoy nice new docks, pump-out facilities at every slip, a fuel dock, shower facilities, security, a friendly staff willing to help us in any way and best of all, a monthly fee of only around $350.

When we heard of slips in downtown Clearwater, we were naturally interested. Not only would we have no drawbridges to traverse, we would only be about 10 minutes from our boat.

Once we saw the planned rates, however, we said "forget it." The rate was more than twice what we currently pay in Gulfport. There's also the issue of slip size that was mentioned in this article. Slips that are 50 feet long and only 12 feet wide? Some additional research may be needed here. Our boat is only 37 feet long and we are 12 feet 6 inches wide. Are power boats so different?

Unless and until the City of Clearwater gets realistic about slip rental rates and size, not to mention the issues of security, I predict that not many more than 23 people will take advantage of the new slips. The attraction of no fixed bridges and easy access to the gulf is enticing, especially to those of us who still own boats who could use these slips.

Has the city noticed the many empty slips in other marinas these days? There is a lot of competition for remaining boat owners. Years of paying more attention to potential tax revenues from condos in lieu of marinas for boat owners has forced many boat owners to sell their crafts. This, combined with the declining economy, seems to have taken its toll.

We'll be happy to sign up for a slip in downtown Clearwater when it's an attractive option.

Gail Carroll, Belleair

Work on waterfront starts story, Aug. 18

City is wasting $12.8 million

It is hard to believe that Clearwater is actually going to spend $12.8 million on the downtown marina project. With less than 10 percent of the proposed 126 boat slips rented, our leaders insist on plowing ahead with this white elephant.

Anyone who would like to take a drive down to the waterfront at the foot of the Harborview Center parking lot or the parking lot to the south under the Memorial Causeway Bridge and sit back and enjoy an unobstructed view of Clearwater Bay, Island Estates, Clearwater Beach, Sand Key Bridge, Sand Key (formerly known as Dan's Island), sunsets, storms, boats passing by, porpoise swimming, birds and a whole lot more, please give it a try. It's free with a small donation to the parking meter. Free — not $12.8 million.

It is absurd to believe that great numbers of visitors will travel through the Scientology campus, aka downtown Clearwater, to go look at 23 boats, floating concrete docks and an empty boardwalk.

Clearwater needs to put this mistake on the back burner, and hold another referendum to see if would pass again. I think not.

R. Padgett, Clearwater

Principal had a few surprises

Alison Kennedy, principal of Safety Harbor Middle School, kicked off the start of the new school year with a fun day, Florida style. Teachers and staff began with a meet and greet over bagels and juice and then were transported by Astroskate buses (love those pink buses) to Weekie Wachee. It was a closely guarded secret where we were headed and a nice surprise. Seeing Mrs. Kennedy's performance in the mermaid tank also was a surprise and when she retires, another career awaits!

Thank you to Astroskate, the folks at Weekie Wachee who were so kind, and the Parent Teacher Student Association and Crispers for the delicious picnic lunch.

It is going to be a challenging year, but Safety Harbor Middle is ready and, as the kids say, that is how we roll, so bring it on!

Janice Brown, Safety Harbor

>>your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Boat slips are poorly planned and too expensive 08/22/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 1:31pm]

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